GOSPEL-CENTERED. EAST END-FOCUSED.
What does it mean to be “gospel-centered”? It means that everything we do stems from and is motivated out of the good news that Jesus has reconciled us to the Father through his life, death, and resurrection by grace. Because God is perfect and holy, he requires perfection to be in a right relationship with him, but the good news is that through placing our faith in Jesus’ sacrificial life, death, and resurrection, we have been brought into a right relationship with God purely by grace (undeserved favor), not by our good works. This is good news because our good works could never reach perfection and could never earn us a right relationship with God! Without Jesus, we would have no hope. But the gospel tells us that, because God so loved the world, He sent Jesus the Son, to live, die, and rise again in our place, and He gives us credit for it all when we place our faith in Him! Because God has done everything required for us to be brought back into a right standing with Himself, we joyfully desire to live every area of our lives submitted to God and centered on this good news message called the gospel of Jesus. This means that the gospel message informs and motivates everything in the life of our Church—from on-going growth in discipleship to being on mission in the everyday things of life. Christianity is ultimately a grace-based religion, not a works-based one, and we seek to embody that grace to each other and to our neighborhood.
What does it mean for us to be “East End-focused”? It means that, as we seek to embody the grace of God to others, we do so with a geographical focus on the East End. We love all of Houston, but to be most effective in our mission and not be spread so thin, we believe in concentrating on the neighborhood we are centered in. This means we exist in and for the East End, so all of our efforts as a local church will be focused on reaching, serving, and tangibly loving this neighborhood that we call home. This also means that our church is mostly made up of fellow East End residents who share and engage the same spaces our neighbors do--from the local community centers, taquerias, and parks that have been around for years to the new coffee shops, restaurants, and bars that add diversity to our neighborhood. We seek to intentionally engage and frequent the same spaces our neighbors do so that we might create a local presence in our neighborhood that would lead us to build relationships with fellow East Enders, serve them tangibly as an expression of Christ’s love, introduce them to the life of our faith community, and have opportunities to share the good hope that the gospel offers all people through Christ.
We desire that our faith community would be one that welcomes fellow East Enders from all kinds of diverse backgrounds. We want to welcome the hard-pressed, urban/inner-city resident longing for restoration and belonging, the artist in search of the greater beauty and meaning their art point to, the young professional seeking for more than the exhausting treadmill of corporate success, and any other East Ender that's curious to explore what a relationship with God could look like for them. Skeptics who are curious about who we are and what we are about are also more than welcome!
In planting a new local church in our neighborhood, we do so knowing that we are not the answer but rather a part of God's greater story of redemption in the East End. Therefore, we desire to partner with existing churches, ministries, and non-profits who are already serving our neighborhood in tangible ways.
As a local church tethered to the historic Church in all its beauty and brokenness, we seek to lock arms with fellow East Enders in seeking the welfare of our neighborhood. This means we must not only be consumers, but cultivators and contributors as well. Ultimately, we desire to join God in his historic work of restoration and redemption in the East End as followers of Jesus. We sum this up by stating that we are authentically East End, and authentically Christian.
As a church, Sojourn East End is organized into groups called neighborhood parishes, which we often refer to as the "backbone" of all that we do at Sojourn. Historically, the word "parish" has been used to refer to a geographic area with a minister. At Sojourn we believe the bible teaches that all Christians are called to be ministers of reconciliation. The reason we call them Neighborhood Parishes is they are groups of men and women seeking to minister to our neighborhood. The way we aim to do that is to simply live life together, love and serve one another, and love and serve our neighbors.
Currently, we have two parishes in the East End. You can find more information about our parishes under the “Plan A Visit” tab. If you’d like to visit one of our parish gatherings, please send an e-mail to Carlos Rebollar at firstname.lastname@example.org.